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Shelter Island Reporter obituaries: Helme, Williams

Jay Ely Helme

Jay Ely Helme of Cape Coral, Florida and Middletown, Rhode Island, beloved husband, father and grandfather passed away on January 21, 2019 at 87 years of age.

Jay Ely Helme

He was a summer resident of Shelter Island for about the first 60 years of his life, and then a year-round resident for another decade or so. Known to many as “The Commodore,” Jay was a larger than life presence, his family said, full of love, good fellowship and good humor.

Family was always his first priority, followed by friends, community and country. Generous to a fault,his family said, he shared the selfless values and integrity of the Greatest Generation — his word was his bond. An incredibly well read man, he could converse on almost any topic and offer valuable advice on many. He enjoyed following sports, but was passionate about football — especially the New England Patriots and his alma mater, Princeton University.

Jay was born in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania to George W. Helme II and Dorothy Ely Helme on June 8, 1931. He graduated from The Penn Charter School and earned a degree in economics from Princeton. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and proudly served at Fort Sill, Oklahoma following his graduation. Active in the reserves for several years, he closed out his service with an honorable discharge as a first lieutenant.

Jay met the love of his life, Mary Bonnage, known as “Bonnie,” while they were both in high school. They were married on August 7, 1952. While raising their four children, they divided their time between Paoli, Pennsylvania and the family home in Shelter Island Heights. They moved to the Island year-round after Jay became an independent consultant, and later spent several happy years in Newport, Rhode Island before building their dream home in Cape Coral, Florida, the family said.

Jay’s career began with the firm of Alderson and Sessions in Philadelphia. A healthcare project that he worked on there led to his being named executive director of a new healthcare facilities advisory agency, the Hospital Survey Committee. This was a private nonprofit that was active in shaping healthcare facility development in the Philadelphia area.

He went on to found sister companies Medicon Inc. and Third Age Inc., serving as chairman and president of both.
After Jay and Bonnie moved to the Island full-time, he created Helme Associates and served clients such as Kessler Rehabilitation Center, Southampton Hospital and Newport Hospital. He left a valuable and lasting legacy of improvements at many of the hospital and health care institutions he worked with. Jay was a lifelong member of the Shelter Island Yacht Club. He was a flag officer and trustee for many years, serving as commodore in 1970-71.

He helped run the Club’s 85th anniversary and 100th anniversary regattas, and led the club through the acquisition of the adjoining Bull property in the 1970s. In his younger days, Jay raced a Star with his brother George, and in later years he sailed a Bristol 34 called Typhoon.

Jay was extremely proud that the club created the Helme Trophy in 1999 to honor his and Bonnie’s contributions over the years. He was an avid supporter of Shelter Island’s Resolute Cup team and sailors representing the club in everything from the Olympics to the Sydney Hobart Race. At the time of his passing he was Club Member Number 1. He was also a past member of the New York Yacht Club and the Ida Lewis Yacht Club.

His dedication to the Island extended to the Heights community. In 1979 he spearheaded the incorporation of the Heights as a nonprofit homeowners association known as the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corporation to ensure that the community maintained control of its destiny and held onto ownership of the North Ferry Company.

He served as the first chairman from 1979-1986 and was also on the board of the ferry company for many years.
Jay is survived by his wife of 67 years, Bonnie (nee Mary Elizabeth Snowden Bonnage) and his children: Sally Helme of Middletown, Rhode Island; Suzy Helme of West Chester, Pennsylvania; Sandy Griffin (Greg) of Southampton, New York; and Skip Helme (Nancy) of Newport. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Gregg Griffin Jr., Elizabeth Bowden, Hayley Bowden, Morgan Helme, Reese Bowden and Henry Helme.

A celebration of his life is planned for June 14, 2019 on Shelter Island. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Union Chapel in the Grove, P.O. Box 326, Shelter Island Heights, NY 11965.

Martha Ann Williamson Williams

Martha Ann Williamson Williams

Martha (Marty) Ann Williamson Williams, 95, died on January 27 at 95 years of age. Death came just as she had wished, her family said, in the peace of her home.

Marty was born on March 24, 1923 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Amy Kroehle and Earl Alfred Williamson. Educated in a combination of home-schooling venues and brick and mortar schools, she went first to The Ogontz School and then graduated from Smith College. An excellent student, she also excelled on the dance floor and tennis courts and a “lovable-huggable” redhead caught her eye, her family remembered.

She married Charles Barnett Williams on January 4, 1946.

After years of living in Cleveland, they moved to Pittsburgh where Marty, at age 40, continued her schooling and got a Masters in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. She taught English and Psychology until her retirement in the 1980s. She and Charlie then moved to the family home on Shelter Island. They enjoyed sailing, her family said, musicals in nearby theaters, local farmers’ markets, the restaurants she loved discovering, and the natural beauty of the area, all of which continued to delight her for nearly 40 years.

Her enthusiasm spilled over into other areas: playing all types of bridge games; volunteering for The Red Cross, The ELIH Auxiliary, and The Shelter Island Garden Club; reading; getting together with her fun-loving “Party Girls” group of friends; and planning beautiful parties and family reunions.

She is remembered as a beloved mother and grandmother and a “perfect hostess” of lovely parties.

Marty’s family would like to thank the loving teamwork of Rhonda Corbett, Clint Corbett, Gulnara Akhobadze, Ana Alvizures, Reina Miguel, Esvin Rodriguez, Cathy Rasmussen, the Shelter Island Senior Center, the Shelter Island Police and Fire departments, and East End Hospice for their assistance and tender care.

Marty is survived by her daughter Penelope, her son Richard and his wife, Alice. She is also survived by Patt Rudder, granddaughters Melissa Rudder, Adelaide Williams and Meredith Williams and grandsons Christian Rudder and Barnett Williams. Five great-grandchildren also survive her.

In lieu of a service or flowers, the family asks that friends remember her by reading a book, hugging a child, eating a cookie or an ice cream cone, and embracing the beauty of nature.